Turn your Trials into Gold – Part 2

In the last article I spoke about rejoicing in our trials and glorying in them, by letting patience do it's full work in us, so we may become perfect, complete, lacking nothing, in other words – like Jesus. In this article I would like to discuss the actual practical steps on HOW do we do that, how do we go through trials in a way that Christ gets formed in us. What are the keys for doing this victoriously? Well, the answer is in Hebrews 11 and 12. And before you jump and say – ah, you mean I need to have faith, I know that passage, I want to say to you: No, I want to talk about another aspect that is prevalent in this chapter and that fascinates me! Prepare to see Hebrews 11 and 12 in a new light!
I will start from Hebrews 12 and then go back to Hebrews 11. Let's look at this verse:
'let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus' (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Since our goal is to become perfect, like Jesus, through trials, do we know what the 'like Jesus picture' really looks like? Do we know what we are going for? Do we understand our goal? Do we know Jesus as we need to know Him? Or are we surprised when He behaves towards us like a Consuming Fire, when we only knew Him as Love? Or are we shocked at His Love when He lavishes blessings on us that we do not deserve because we knew Him as a tough master? Do we know Him when He disciplines us as actually being Love towards us through the very act of discipline or do we think He is harsh?
In other words, my question is: Do we REALLY know who Jesus is? This multi-faceted wonderful God! Have we made it our life long pursuit to study who He is, His character and His ways, to see each of His attributes and understand them well from the Scriptures? Are we reading the Scriptures in order to know Him? If our goal is to become like Him, don't we need to know how 'like Him' looks like so we can have a vision to go and pray towards? Yes, we do and I encourage all of us, let's make it a passionate pursuit to know Him in every aspect of His being, as much as we can in this life.
Now, let's return to Hebrews 11. Let's see how all these heroes from the Old Testament went through trials victoriously and ended up in God's wall of fame in Hebrews 11. We will see a pattern develop.
Let's take Abraham: the passage starts with: By faith Abraham …. then lists a number of difficulties … and ends with : FOR HE WAITED for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Remember, in the previous article, we need to LET patience do its full work, in other words wait?
But now in Hebrews 11, a new thing appears apart from the necesarry waiting. This is the actual WHAT they were waiting for, what they were seeing and hoping for. In Abraham's case, he was waiting for a city, probably the New Jerusalem in Revelation!
Next, we go down and it says:
They all died in faith, not having received the promises, but HAVING SEEN THEM afar off, were assured of them and embraced them…. For those who say such things declare that they SEEK A HOMELAND.
How did they endure the trials? BY KEEPING THEIR EYES ON THE GOAL. BY FOCUSING ON WHAT THEY SAW AHEAD, by looking intently at what God revealed to them is ahead so much so that they were assured of it and embraced it.
It goes on and says that: 'And truly if they had CALLED TO MIND that country from which they had come out, they would have had an opportunity to return.'  In other words, if we look back, we will be atracted back, but if we look ahead at the goal, we will be atracted towards the goal!
Now let's look at Moses:
'By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; FOR HE LOOKED to the reward.' (v 24-26)
How did Moses go through all the trials? He LOOKED TO THE REWARD. What was a characteristic of the children of Israel, who all died in the wilderness, never making it to the promise land, apart from two of them? They looked back and called Egypt to mind during each trial
Then it goes on and says: ' By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, FOR HE ENDURED AS SEEING HIM who is invisible." Moses endured because He looked so intently at God in his heart that it was almost as seeing Him!
And now the key verse in Hebrews 12:
'let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, LOOKING unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith, who FOR THE JOY THAT WAS SET BEFORE HIM ENDURED THE CROSS, despising the shame and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (v2)
Jesus was able to endure the cross, because HE SAW THE JOY that was set before Him, He knew how that joy looked like and what it was, He had a vision ahead, a goal! (I think having a close relationship with all of us was part of His joy – and how we dissapoint Him sometimes by not spending time with Him…)
Do you see a theme here? It all depends where they looked and where we are looking! Without a vision the people perish, says the Bible. Where are you looking: behind, ahead or just at your feet?
Do you know what is the joy set before YOU by God, what is the particular calling and mission He has for your life, what He wants to accomplish through you?
Do you know Him well, did you diligently study Him in the Scriptures just to know who He really is? God does not give revelation of Himself cheaply, He says He rewards ONLY those who DILIGENTLY seek HIM (not what He can give us)
I encourage you to go before God and ask Him to reveal Himself to you, every aspect of His being, ways and character. Then you do your part by diligently studying the Scripture to find all these aspects of His Being.
I also encourage you to review this one thing: what are you looking at in your heart? Is it things? Is it the cost of following Jesus? If you focus too much on the cost, and not on Jesus, you might become overwhelmed by the size of the cost. You can't endure the cross, looking at the cross, but only by looking to the joy set before you, just as Jesus did.
Are you looking at the waves, like Peter, at the trials you have in your life, instead at Jesus? Beware, lest you start sinking.
Do you know what the joy is you are meant to focus on? It could be described in broad terms in 3 joys/ goals:
1. Be like Jesus
2. Overcome and get to heaven
3. Fulfill the specific call of God for your life and receive the reward
'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4: 7-8)
Do you know how each of these 3 major joys look? If not, ask God in prayer to reveal them to you … THEY ARE THE KEY TO YOUR ABILITY TO ENDURE THE CROSS along the way … because Jesus Himself endured the cross ONLY because He knew the joy that was set before Him, the heroes in Hebrews 11 endured their trials only because they looked ahead at something God promised them. And it will be no different for you, you need to immitate those who went before us and set an example for us to follow.
So go for it! Happy looking ahead!
Marilena Fackerell

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